- Researchers from Harvard Medical School, RAND Corporation and McLean Hospital analyzed trends in telemedicine use in Medicare from 2004 to 2013 using claims from a random sample of Medicare beneficiaries in a study published in JAMA.
- Telemedicine visits among Medicare beneficiaries increased from 7,015 in 2004 to 107,955 in 2013, yet 0.7% of rural beneficiaries received a telemedicine visit in 2013.
- The majority of visits occurred in outpatient clinics with mental health accounting for 79% of visits.
Rural beneficiaries who received a telemedicine visit were more likely to be under age 65 and disabled, have more illness, and live in a poorer community.
The authors wrote that compared to other studies, they found that state laws mandating commercial insurance reimbursement of telemedicine were not associated with a faster increase in Medicare telemedicine use.
"Our results emphasize that non-reimbursement factors may be limiting the growth of telemedicine including state licensure laws and restrictions that a patient must be hosted at a clinic or facility," the study authors concluded.